Is fresh better than flash frozen vegetables?


5 servings

Some people think fresh produce is the only way to get healthy produce. Not true. Sometimes, frozen or canned vegetables hold just as much—or more nutrients than fresh. They can also be lower is cost and easier to prepare. When I was going through chemo, my idea of preparing a meal was opening a can of white or black beans, a can of tomatoes, a can of corn, and adding pre-chopped celery and onion (thank you friends and family), and maybe spices like cumin or basil. When I was real low on energy, I’d ask someone else to open the cans. They loved this simple request! “Is that all you want me to do?” And depending on my energy level, my response was either, “Yes.” or “I’ll starve if you don’t.”

Vegetables retain their nutrients by how they’re processed or prepared. With flash freezing, vegetables hold their nutrients because soon after picking them, they’re boiled, then moved to ice water and drained before being frozen. Fruits are washed, slices and frozen. Canning uses heat treatment to destroy microorganisms that cause spoilage.

Both flash freezing and canning are done within 24 hours of produce being picked. This is known as “minimal processing.” Foods that are highly processed, including fruits and vegetables prepared with a lot of salt, sugar, or fat are known as “highly processed” foods. Examples are vegetables with cheese sauce, or canned fruit pie filling. If you can, add your own cheese to vegetables, and make your own pie filling. Look for frozen fruit without syrup and canned fruit packed in water or its own juice. Buy no-salt added versions of canned vegetables, or drain out the liquid from the regular kind, and rise a few times. Store brand canned or frozen items are often lower in price and same quality as name-brand.

However you get ‘em – Get ‘em! Five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will help keep you healthy and lower the risk of cancer.

You point the direction with your personal budget


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Some people avoid having a budget out of fear it will rule them. No! YOU have far more control by having a budget, than without one. YOU direct how much, when, and where to allocate the money. Just put aside money and point your mind and actions in the direction you desire.

I’ve been called The Budget Queen for years. I recently learned that Margaret King of Philadelphia, PA reins as Queen Budget with a net worth of $850,000.

It began when she was a graduate student. Her budgeting formula? maximize money for investing. She lived within her means. Her life necessities (needs, not wants—things like utilities, food, housing) fit into 57% of her income. She set aside 10% for travel, and 3% to gift family and friends. That’s a total of 70%. The other 30% was for savings, investments, and paying down the principle on her mortgage.

Ten years ago, King paid off her home loan. Each month, her minimum payment was 15% more than what she owed. Once that money was freed up, she put that 15% into investments.

Don’t get caught up on her net worth. Don’t play the “yeah, but—” game. She did it! Awesome!

So can you! You can take budgeting seriously. You can save money. If you really don’t have extra money, don’t start with a goal of paying down 15% over your debt. If you say you don’t have the money, but are spending it elsewhere, then it’s time to look in the mirror and do some soul searching. The only way to manage something is to track it. By watching your spending, you’ll know where it’s going and that means you’ll know how much you have to spend or save.

King’s budget formula is basically the standard 70-10-10-10. Living on 70% of your net. Investing 10% to long term savings. Investing 10% to short term savings. And 10% for fun. This is where I encourage charity, and pull funds for fun from the short term savings. If someone’s in debt, they can use this last 10% for paying debt down. How you break it up doesn’t matter at all. What’s important is that you begin.

Every once in a while, I grab an envelop and for a month I keep track of all my receipts. If I spend money and forget a receipt, I write down the cost and what it was for on the envelop, or piece of paper and put that piece of paper in the envelop. At the end of the month I take a look at where my money’s going. I also check in with myself at a “real” level. Were there a bunch of things I could really do without? It’s not to punish, it’s to cross check desires and actions. If you say you want to save more money, or have more money—but you spend on immediate gratification, it’s not a match. Something has to give.

I am steeped in New Thought (law of attraction, act as if, affirmations, etc.) You cannot pray for money (or anything) and do nothing to draw it to you. Prayer or meditation may be part of that action, but at some point there will be a message for you to “treat and move your feet.” This is a metaphysical saying meaning, pray (sometimes called prayer treatment) and take action. Action begets action. Not action begets wishful thinking.

You can do it! Be the Budget Queen. Be the King within. As within, so without. It’s all about cause and effect. As our beliefs change, so do our experiences.

Dinner on a Budget


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Dinner on a budget, fighting inflation, making money go further at the grocery store. Call it whatever you want. Here are some tips for healthy eating and saving money.

We only need three ounces of protein a meal, and it doesn’t need to come completely from meat. By cutting down on meat intake, you’ll save money, and depending on how much meat you’ve been piling on your plate, you may be doing your body a world of good. Have a small portion of meat and a high-protein side dish, such as beans, lentils or grains.

Check your cupboards and refrigerator. I have a fit if I have to toss food. Often, I’ll turn one meal into another meal to use up what I have. I may have roasted vegetables one night with leftovers. The next night, I may have soup with the leftover roasted vegetables in it, Or add cheese and pasta sauce to the vegetables. Use ingredients before they expire. Get creative without going to the store. Maybe you’ll find a can of diced tomatoes, a can or bag of frozen corn, and a can or bag of frozen green beans. By adding rice or pasta, spices and some meat, you’ve got a meal you can make in one pan. Or, add chicken broth and you’ve got soup. For great soup, you could use the bones from a rotisserie chicken and use up “tired” vegetables from the refrigerator. (Celery tops, onion chunks, carrots, parsley—whatever you have.) Add enough water to cover the bones and cook for an hour or so. Take out the bones and vegetables and add new/good vegetables to the broth.

I used to buy black and Northern beans in cans. I didn’t know how to use the ones from the bag, and didn’t want to have to plan ahead so far to soak them for hours before cooking. I have a 94 year old neighbor who was upset with me when I told her I never “made” beans before. She brought me a bowl of Northern beans and spaghetti (no sauce) and told me the beans were from a bag, and she cooked them for one and a half hours (no soaking.) I thought they’d be hard and tough. They were delicious. The beans were far better than the caned ones, and I’ve learned they last longer in the refrigerator than canned ones. Stored the un-used cooked beans in a jar with some of the water they cooked in covering them. You’ll be happy how easy and inexpensive beans form a bag are to prepare.

Take advantage of the grocery store sales. If you’re low on something, but not out of it, consider buying it before you run out, when you may have to pay full price. You may need to cook up the sale meat that day, or freeze it, but if it’s something you’ll eat anyway, it’s savings.

Buy oatmeal in the drum rather than the packages. Or, if you’re okay buying from bulk bins, scoop up savings that way.

Buy smaller amounts to keep things fresh. I love what Nabisco has done with the Original Saltine crackers. Fresh Stacks are packed in smaller portions, so they don’t go stale. Rather than having four long packs of crackers, this box has six packs. I think you get two ounces less of crackers and pay about fifty cents more. It’s a bit more expensive—or is it? None of my saltines go stale anymore.

Add Two Zeros Savings Plan


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I came across a great “retirement plan” idea from a magazine article. The idea can be altered a bit for someone who’s just begun the workforce, too. It’s fun, easy to remember and can really add up into some serious savings.

Here’s the idea: Save your age plus two zeros every year. Whoo-Hoo 21! means putting aside $2,100 that year. The next year would be $2,200 and at Hello 50! you put aside $5,000. You can do this over the year-long period, or as a single, big birthday gift to yourself. You can also set it up with your bank to automatically transfer the funds into your retirement account with a preset schedule.

If you can’t set aside the two zeros for retirement now, put aside your age every week. ($35 per week when you’re age 35.) It’ll add up to half as much as the two zero system, but half is half more than nothing!

If you’re planing to wait until your birthday to begin this, write it down, set it up as a reminder and with your bank or you won’t do it. If it’s not important enough to do this week, it’ll fall to the land of could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. Be pro-active. Set it up now.

Buying Stocks for Kids


 image credit: Google

Do you have young family members, or children of friends you’d like to get interested in investing? While I don’t like the idea of promoting gambling—and let’s face it, the stock market is a form of it, I do think the stock market is at least worth talking about to kids.

Do you watch television, or read the newspaper? If you watch a television show to do anything with money, or pour over the stock report page in the newspaper, talk about it with a child, teen—or anyone who’ll listen. I’ll never forget the day when I was living in New Zealand and a friend of mine saw me reading the stock reports and with shock asked, “Do you understood it?” Meekly adding, “I wish I did.” I brought the page over to him and explained the columns. Soon after that he let me know how Coke and Disney were doing. For his birthday a few years later, I bought him some shares in Coke. Rather than having him open an account for a few stock shares and pay taxes on his gift, I bought some shares to add to my account then told him what I’d done, and why. The idea was to sell the shares to cover some of his travel expenses to the states when he came for a visit.

According to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, 12/20012 if you want to buy some stock for a minor, you could go through a brokerage firm, several of which offer custodial accounts with low minimum, no setup or annual fees, and low or no commissions for buying and selling shares.

  •   Capitol One (formerly ING Direct) has no minimum and charges $4 per trade if you sign up for their monthly automatic investment plan. Capitol One (as far as I can tell) is continuing with their Kids Saving Account, which has no fees or minimum and currently pays 0.8% interest. I like this site for kids. It promotes taking/teaching about money—specifically saving, in a casual, fun style.
  • Charles Schwab has a $100 investment minimum and charges $8.95 for on-line stock trades.
  • TD Ameritrade charges $9.99 for each on-line stock trade, and has no fees or minimum.
  • Scottrade has a $500 investment minimum and charges $7 for on-line trades.

If you have more than one child involved, they will each need their own custodial account, each having a custodian, who’ll manage the account assets until the child is eighteen or twenty-one, depending on the state in which they reside. The custodian doesn’t need to be the child’s parent. The custodian can be a grandparent, aunt/uncle, parent’s friend—anyone who’ll manage the assets responsibly until the child is of legal age to do so. Anyone may contribute to the child’s account, not just the custodian.

This could be a fun gift if you got creative with it. You could still wrap something up, or create a scavenger hunt for hints—stock report page, pictures from magazines that represent the stock. You don’t have to go big with this. You can buy one share if you want, and depending on what you buy, maybe you wait a few months and buy another share. Have fun and use it as a learning tool for your child. Maybe they pay the fee and you pay the stock, or the other way around. Make sure you educate them the ups (bull) and downs (bear) of stock, and how time heals most wounds. Maybe a trip to the library for some books or videos, too. Have fun!

Children friendly links:

Creative wealth

Money management 

 Finance park video

Young Savers

 

When the Debt’s Paid off


 image credit: Google

Chances are, if you’re in debt, you’re trying to pay it off. Great! While you’re paying it off, focus on the freedom paying it off brings, rather than the debt itself.

Say you’re paying $400 a month to pay off your debt. Finally! The day is here! You’re debt-free! The following month you have $400 you are used to putting aside for payment.

Create a special savings account. Monthly deposit that $400 or whatever amount you’ve been paying. You’re created a habit of putting aside money, so keep putting aside that same amount—into a savings account. Some banks let you have several savings accounts, and let you name them. (ING Direct is one of those banks) http://www.ingdirect.com/savings

I suggest combining this with writing a goal. It’ll keep you focused on saving for your goal. When you attain goal’s needed amount of money, you can spend it. Maybe you want to invest it, or travel, or remodel a room. If the account is your “fun money” maybe it’s money for anything fun—movies, dinner, a quick get away. Either way, save it first.

An Emotional Connection:


“If you had $1,000, how much would you save for retirement?” —This was a question asked to students who were shown what they’d look like at 60. Those who saw their aged selves saved twice as much as those who didn’t see the future. Those who saw their aged selves, made an emotional connection to their future selves. They saved twice as much as those who didn’t see their aged selves. So… go ahead, ask 5 year olds what they want to be when they grow up; ask teens which college they want to go to; ask young adults about careers—and ask how “If you had $1,000, how much would you save for retirement?”

Focusing on age is an idea that spiritual New Thought teachings don’t embrace. New Thought teaches: You are as you think. Where your attention goes, energy flows. Every thought is a prayer. So, if you’re spending your days imagining when you’re older, you’ll age. Whatever your age now, look at yourself in a forecast mode of 30+ years. What are you doing? How are you living? What’s your retirement savings status? After you’ve done this, move on. Don’t look in the mirror for that “older” image to present itself. If you live day to day, “For when you’re old”, all you’ll get is what you’re looking for. In the same mode, if you focus on  poverty, you’ll never get rich. Here’s a link for a book about mindset and money. I know there are other sites with free downloads, but I don’t know the legality of that, so here’s the link to Amazon.  http://www.amazon.com/Think-Grow-Rich-Napoleon-Hill